Are Nut Butters Safe for Dogs?

It’s no secret that dogs love peanut butter. A lot.

You’ve seen the pet food aisles, filled with peanut butter flavored dog treats. You've probably even bought them. You might be one of those people who gives your peanut butter loving hound a stuffed Kong to keep him/her happily occupied.

But times change, and the grocery store shelves have more than just peanut butter on them now. Perhaps as a result of (human) peanut allergies, or perhaps simply to satiate humanity's need for variety, the food industry has introduced a whole slew of nut & seed butters. Cashew, almond, sunflower, hazelnut... These are just a few of the nut butters lining the shelves at your local supermarket. And you might wonder... "Can I give those to my dog, too?"

Are the new nut butters safe for your dog? What about the nuts themselves - roasted almonds, pecans, pistachios, macadamias, and more - are those safe for Fido?

Which Nuts & Nut Butters Are Safe for Dogs?

  • Peanut Butter - Let’s start with the old standby of peanut butter. When smeared into a kong or given as a baked treat, most dogs adore the taste of peanut butter. If your dog is one of those, you can rest easy knowing that peanut allergies are extremely rare in dogs, so Fido can continue enjoying peanut butter in moderation.
  • Cashew Butter - As it turns out, this lovely, crescent moon shaped nut is also acceptable for dogs in small doses. A few roasted cashews here and there are fine. Ditto to the nut butter. You can share a bit with Fido, just don’t overdo it.
  • Almond Butter -- Yes, your furry friend can enjoy the occasional taste of almond butter. However, not all dogs can digest almonds well so while they’re not toxic, proceed with caution and discontinue almonds/almond butter if Fido gets an upset stomach afterwards.


Keep in mind that all nuts are high in fat which can upset your pup’s tummy. So if you want to share roasted nuts or nut butter, limit Fido’s intake. Additionally, while you can give Fido these nuts as snacks, be absolutely sure you're giving only a few and there are NO shells. Nuts swallowed whole (a common occurrence since dogs may not chew their treats well!), as well as shells, can create intestinal obstructions requiring expensive surgery to treat. No one wants a favorite treat to turn into an emergency!


Which Nuts & Nut Butters Are on the “Don’t” List?

Macadamias, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts in any form are on the “NO” list when it comes to your pup.

  • Macadamia nuts contain a toxic chemical that can cause neurological symptoms.
  • Pecans, macadamias and pistachios can all cause gastric upset and/or obstructions, and those highest in fat (especially macadamias and pistachios) can cause pancreatitis.
  • Of course, any chocolate coated nut or chocolate/cocoa-containing nut butter should also be kept out of your dog's reach. 


For your dog's safety, you'll also want to make sure you avoid the nut butters made with additives such as the popular sweetener xylitol. This ingredient is highly dangerous to dogs, causing acute hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure, and, sometimes, death. You’ll usually find it in sugar-free or reduced sugar products so be sure to read the label before you feed anything inside to your dog. You also need to be sure you check the ingredients lists for other ingredients - like cocoa powder (found in some of the new "no-nut" butters)! 


Don’t Forget...

Remember when you give Fido his favorite peanut butter (or other nut butter) treat that it's high in fat. Because of the fat content, not only can nuts pack on the pounds, but too much can cause GI distress like tummy aches, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Additionally, the best choice for nuts (and nut butters) are those that are unsalted or only very lightly salted. 


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